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What’s Not an Advantage of Working from Home?

I had figured when I started doing most of my work from home, one advantage would be that I’d get sick less often. You’d always get bouts of stuff going around the office, and maybe 1/3rd of the time something went around, you got it. I figured being home most of the time would mean this wouldn’t happen.

So far that’s not playing out. There’s definitely a cold bug going around the office, and having been there Wednesday and Thursday of last week, I’m battling my second cold bug of the year. That’s about par for the course before I started working from home. Moreover, both my colds have been worse than previous ones I used to get. So I’m not sure working from home means you catch less illnesses from your coworkers. Though, perhaps the workplace isn’t quite the disease vector that grocery stores, restaurants, and other places people frequent are.

14 Responses to “What’s Not an Advantage of Working from Home?”

  1. Andy B. says:

    I didn’t notice a great deal of difference in my everyday health (colds, etc.) between the time I worked in a fairly crowded office, and went to work for myself, at home, in nearly total isolation. But then, my wife was a teacher, and would bring home lots of infection from school.

    A big difference in those days (c. 1987) was that the office I had worked in used to reek of cigarette smoke — to such an extent my wife wouldn’t let me open my briefcase in the house — and moving to an entirely smoke-free environment was a relief.

    Something that I’m sure aided my long-term health was, finally getting enough sleep when I went to work for myself. I worked much longer hours, and would often work until the early morning hours, but would almost always get 8 hours of sleep before starting in again.

    The worst thing about working from home is that you are your own worst boss. Being solely responsible for everything, when you sit down to relax there is always something nagging you, in the back of your mind, that you could be taking care of, so you turn on TV or grab a book, and five minutes later are back at your desk or keyboard. There may be some people who are the opposite, but I haven’t met many.

    Also, the amount of shooting I did dropped off sharply. I sometimes calculated that I spent 15 – 20 minutes crafting a round, for the sport I was pursuing, and like TV and books that shortly took a backseat to All That Must be Done.

    Back to advantages, depending on what you do, it may be possible to do it anywhere. While our kids were still at home, we’d rent a house at the seashore for the whole summer and move there. I’d spend the afternoons on the beach then go back to work. And, that was pre-cell-phones, so it would be even easier now. My clients seemed willing to tolerate and work around my alternative business style.

    • Sebastian says:

      The worst thing about working from home is that you are your own worst boss. Being solely responsible for everything, when you sit down to relax there is always something nagging you, in the back of your mind, that you could be taking care of, so you turn on TV or grab a book, and five minutes later are back at your desk or keyboard. There may be some people who are the opposite, but I haven’t met many.

      I’ve found this to be the case too.

      • Dannytheman says:

        I would have to jump in and say I agree, too! I started earlier, like with my coffee. I stayed later, while dinner was cooking.
        My wife had a love hate relationship with it. I seemed to be working more, but the dinner was made, the laundry was done and the house was clean. (God bless Blue tooth and conference calls.)

  2. David says:

    Another thing that’s not an advantage; on the days I work from home my wife will give me a list of things she wants done around the house.

    • Sebastian says:

      I haven’t had that particular problem.

    • Maria says:

      I have that with my family members. Our household has family and extended family members at the moment. Even though I have my own work area it’s always taken for granted that I’m available to help out or do tasks. Drives me nuts some days but on other days the mental break is nice.

  3. Windy Wilson says:

    I found that working at home, business considerations ate into sleep and home considerations ate into daytime business hours. My round-robin procrastination had additional items to throw into the cycle with the carpet vacuuming being my responsibilty as well as customer billing, Acc/payable and three meals.
    I didn’t notice any change in colds, but then I don’t have kids and seem sort of immune. Maybe the colds you get are sort of like those isolated islanders get from visitors, a la St. Helena in the South Atlantic.

    • Sebastian says:

      I found that working at home, business considerations ate into sleep and home considerations ate into daytime business hours.

      I’ve found this to be the case too, but I don’t mind so much. As long as I’m feeling like I’m making reasonable progress on what I should be working on. I think one problem is, you feel like you need to get a day’s worth of work done, regardless. How many hours did I used to spend in the office not being very productive? Quite a bit. I think everyone pretty much only has about 4-6 hours a day they can be mentally productive. In an office, you take that as a given. When you work from home you feel kind of guilty about it, so you push yourself harder.

      What I’ve found is I’ll have several days of work where I spend most of the day very productive, and then I kind of burn out and have several days of poor productivity.

      In truth, I’d probably rather be in an office most days a week. After doing this for 9 months or so now, I think 3 days a week in the office, and two at home would be ideal. Working from home has both benefits and drawbacks, but I couldn’t say definitively that it is superior to office work. It’s a trade off.

  4. Ed says:

    Since 2000 I have worked from home when I was not working at a client’s offices. I used to travel 30-35 weeks a year for work, but since the last economic downturn most clients do not want to pay for travel on top of my hourly rate. So I am now the grand master of WebEx.

    I never get sick when I at home and my wife works in healthcare, in and out of hospitals all day. She does however never bring her shoes in the house, they live on racks in the garage, so the germs never come in the house. We both wash our hands often and I never touch above my neck when traveling or out in public until I wash my hands. No I am not a germaphobe just found out that this works best for avoiding colds, fevers and the flu.

    The one thing that sucks about working from home and not traveling as much is face time with other human beings, my office mate the cat visits often but it is not the same. So I go out to a local diner for breakfast or a local tavern for lunch and chat with regulars a few days a week. Sort of like the office water cooler without all the related office politics B.S.

    • Harold says:

      I never touch above my neck when traveling or out in public until I wash my hands

      I found this to be the key. I did some work in the mid-80s that had me reading the more interesting articles in a general medical year book, one of which was on how colds are really transmitted. Inoculation of your eyes or nose by your fingers was clearly the #1 cause. While it took a while, like you I trained myself to not touch my eyes (glasses helped) and nose over the next few years and stopped getting colds by and large, despite taking public transit for most of the next two decades.

  5. Bill Twist says:

    I find that when I’m not feeling well, and it’s one of my scheduled work from home days, I tend to work if at all possible. This is true even if it’s something I would normally call in sick for if it was one of my days to work at the office.

  6. Richard says:

    Since this is a gun blog, one major advantage is crime prevention. I run a farm and small business from home. My hours cannot be easily tracked by burglars and I am generally home during the day when most burglaries occur in my rural area.

    I also set my own carry policy- OC or CC.

    I noticed a flu and cold reduction too.

  7. Dannytheman says:

    Adding this end down here. I will say I haven’t been sick in 5 years. I wash my hands all the time now, not quite compulsive, but much more often. If I use the home computer, I wash after. I still have kids here at home.
    I also agree that being home gives you an incredible sense of security, you truly get to know sounds and neighborhood quirks. People that walk the dog at same time, neighbors having work done, etc. My neighbor had a painter contractor working in his house. I saw a strange man in a black truck walk in the house and I called my neighbor to ask him what was up. He approved of my call and thanked me for caring. (He also said, “Glad you didn’t shoot him, he does good work.”)

    Wash your hands more, don’t touch your face.

  8. Zermoid says:

    I firmly believe schools are little more than germ breeding grounds.

    When the family moved to PA the kids were little and the wife set up a in home grooming business while I worked in print shops. We didn’t get sick for 4 years until the kids started school. The youngest will be out of HS in 3 years. I am soooooo looking forward to it!

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